The Miami Heat started Game 5 as if they were battling themselves. In the words of Erik Spoelstra they were “simply not playing hard enough.” They were nonchalant like they knew they have two more chances to advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals.
It was reminiscent of the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals when Miami sat an injured Dwyane Wade — in Game 6 — knowing that they still had a Game 7 with the Detroit Pistons. And they ended up watching the championship from home.
But once Miami began to wake up, the referees took over.
We can call it a case of free throw “home-cooking” part three. That would be the only way to really describe why questionable calls had LeBron James playing 1:10 in the second quarter, five fouls by the third and seven points by the end of the fourth. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a coincidence that the last time he fouled out in the playoffs was in Indiana — home-cooking.
It was one of those contests where the calls were so bad that the league can expect a few days of fans pointing out how blatant it was that they wanted a Game 6. Yet things were still entertaining.
An 11-point lead was blown here and another 11-point lead was blown there, but when it came down to it Paul George gave us a glimpse of what he’s been missing since the All-Star break.
The Indiana Pacers’ star caught Serge Ibaka-fire, scoring 21 of his 37 points in the closing quarter and 31 in second half. He was automatic like his legs were fresh from not having to chase James around because he was parked on the bench.
For a good two and a half minutes, he and the Heat went back and forth with bank shots, spinning pull-ups and desperation threes. However, Pacer haters are going to tell you that LeBron barely clocked 24 minutes and the champs still had a shot to win with less than a hand full of seconds left. But a win is a win, and it could’ve been worse if Indiana didn’t brick nine free throws.
When it comes down to it, the Heat could have avoided the need for heroics if they didn’t give up David West’s number — in points — off of 17 turnovers and showed the ability to get a stop, regardless of foul trouble or not.